WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) released the following statement Monday marking the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“From science to the arts, and business to our armed forces, Hispanic Americans have played a vital role in shaping our nation’s history, culture, and identity. Hispanic Americans have made groundbreaking discoveries, led social and political movements, and risen to the highest levels of government, business, and non-profit leadership.

“I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with so many inspiring Hispanic leaders at La Esperanza, the Latin American Community Center, and Nuestras Raíces Delaware who exemplify the American Dream and are working hard to help others achieve it. I’m proud to join with them – and with all Delawareans – to celebrate our nation’s rich Hispanic heritage and honor the contributions of Hispanic Americans in our communities.”

The nation began observing Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson. The celebraton was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover the 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, also falls within this 30-day period.

Click here to learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month.